Nile @ The Garage, London

For once The Garage in London isn’t shoving the death metal devoted into the tiny upstairs area but this doesn’t stop the gig ending in blood, sweat and beers. Opening the night are Belgian deathsters Pestifer, who seem pretty unknown tonight. For those out early, it’s a showcase of tidy yet uninspiring tech death that does little to wake up the crowd and despite groovy breakdowns and vague stage presence, it’s unlikely Pestifer will be a band Googled profusely after the show.

Luckily Svart Crown have far more power behind them, as they blast into their eerie blackened death that may not sit pretty on this bill but is lapped up almost instantly. The four-piece from France feel monolithic from the stage, as they proof they still have it in the form of new tracks ‘In Utero’ and title track ‘Profane’, blasting immaculate yet sinister melodies amongst the chaos. Despite their darker approach to brutality, the band seem to have won over genre elitists tonight and rightly so.

Kataklysm’s “side project” Ex-Deo are certainly starting to make their own name, especially after a strong set at this year’s Bloodstock festival. With themes as strong as Nile’s Egyptian love affair, the death metallers death metal is smothered with Roman mythology and thus has an epic presence live. The guitar is a little low in the mix but with armour intact and heavy melodies galore, the band still prove their worth on this line up.

US veterans Nile have their loyal followers in tow before they’ve even played a note and it isn’t long until temperatures akin to their worshipped desert land are reached. Mosh pits break out for all the classics including ‘Sarcophagus’, Kafir!’ and ‘Lashed To The Slavestick’ and unlike their performing predecessors, the guitar sounds as crunchy and widdly as necessary. ‘The Howling Of The Jinn’ is one of a few songs that are a rarity live but still sound as terrifying as one would hope and although latest offering ‘At The Gates Of Sethu’ was weak in comparison it’s tunes still get some energy from the pit.

As the night draws to a sudden close due to a lack of encore, favourite ‘Black Seeds of Vengeance’ confirms that twenty years in the business has not worn Nile down and the spirit of Ra is still strong across the metal plains.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

published on soundshock.com

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Necrowretch feature for Iron Fist

The wretched forms of death metal have been yanked from the ground over the last five years by youngsters desperate for the taste of blood and whilst many drag its name through the mud, others keep the primitive roots alive. French duo Necrowretch are one example of this, with frontman/guitarist Vlad picking up a guitar purely because of hearing Death’s ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ and six months later Necrowretch’s first demo was born.

“It was an amazing part of my life when I discovered so many death metal bands and in a certain way ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ was the highlight of this period and today it remains my major death metal influence”, Vlad reminisces. “The unholy alliance between Schuldiner and Reifert is just perfect and it delivers the true essence of death metal: raw, primitive, evil!”

 

This year’s debut ‘Putrid Death Sorcery’ saw the band beginning to find their own path with a record pummelling you from start to finish through a rabid tempo and savage aggression akin to eighties thrash and death coming to a head with one another. Slowly growing their following after appearances at Copenhagen’s Kill Town Fest in 2010, it was during an album launch for Asphyx that their viscious show caught the attention of Century Media. The record label took the band under their wings like label mates Sonne Adam, another band with a passion for traditional extremity but how does one tell between those who are true and those following the latest trend?

 

“I don’t really know, as I’m young and wasn’t part of the previous decade of death metal. I started playing music to make something similar to ‘Scream Bloody Gore’, and then the music became more personal and Necrowretch became its own”, explains Vlad. “Unlike our first recordings, I feel that we don’t sound like Autopsy or Nihilist anymore but actually came up with an evil and sick sound of our own that is hard to pigeonhole. I’m sure it’s the same way for a lot of metalheads playing in this “real” death metal vein. Of course there are also a lot of posers only using a HM 2 pedal to have a flat sound and to play the same riffs of Dismember, and I don’t like this kind of “copy paste” death metal.”

 

One man that refuses to listen to anything other than real metal is of course, Fenriz of Darkthrone. Linked heavily to Live Evil Festival, which will see its third festival causing havoc in London later on in the year, his Band of the Week choices are a strong focus for the line-up, a list Necrowretch were lucky enough to be a part of. The band’s first attack on our shores will be surrounded by the likes of Satan and Midnight to name a few but Vlad, Amphycion (bass) and new drummer Executor plan to step up to the mark.

 

“Be prepared for something very evil! We’ll play with all our guts and add some bestial touches for this show. The set will include many songs off the album that we never played live before. Be ready for your funeral! It was fucking amazing to be picked as a band of week by Fenriz. It’s a real honour for us to be heard by a metal veteran and to play with the other killer bands.”

 

Despite growing up in an area desolate to the metal realms, the joys of tape trading for the band and close friends helped Necrowretch witness the underground scene within their homeland. He believes there are plenty of killer bands “but sadly there is not enough support as people here are more into shitty core bands.” When asked who he would choose if he had the opportunity to step into Fenriz’s boots only French acts are listed, including Ritulalization, Affliction Gate and Cadaveric Fumes.

 

Sticking with the stereotypes of the underground, Necrowretch’s demos and EPs were only available on tape and quickly sold out, however a compilation is soon to be available on CD. In previous interviews, Vlad shared that he felt the past recordings should be left in the shadows of Necrowretch due to their sound evolving so rapidly, however the change of heart means “that for the first time all the recordings between 2009 and 2012 will feature on one disc, which is a great opportunity for people that have discovered us through the album and want to know more about the band and its filthy roots.”

 

Since ‘Putrid Death Sorcery’ was unleashed at the beginning of this year, Vlad claims the band are more ambitious than ever and that despite it being a huge step, the goal is still the same – “to play our passion for extreme metal.” A year has passed since recording the album for which Vlad, Amphycion and session drummer Mörkk quit their day jobs to concentrate on and Vlad believes they achieved the evil envisaged. “I think some parts could’ve been done better but the goal when we entered the studio was to unleash hell through our music and this was reached as the devil appears in the first seconds of the album.” Despite a clean production, Necrowretch keep the raw formula throughout all their recordings and this could be due to a ridiculously quick turnaround time. The recording process for the EPs took a mere day each whilst the debut was completed in ten days, so how on hell does a band work under such time frames?

 

“Ten days to record the album was a very long time for us and we even finished the instruments two days before the schedule. When entering the studio we are as possessed as when we are playing live. I can feel a certain darkness embracing me as we’re creating an ugly child. I feel comfortable playing eight hours of guitar non-stop. It’s just a very long trip into the dark. Also the studio was in a basement, so we were totally cut from the world; playing, eating, sleeping and living in this rancid lair for almost two weeks. It added a creepy ambiance to the album that you can feel if you listening carefully with headphones.”

 

Quite frankly, residing in a tomb has added the exact ambience Vlad speaks off and we can only hope that their second effort, which he promises will be “more bestial than the beast himself”, alongside the compilation ‘Bestial Rites’ resurrecting  proof of the primitive , will be even more of a terror for the masses. With a tour crushing over Europe planned alongside Swe-death slaughterers Morbus Chron and a hint that the band will rear their ugly heads at next year’s Party.San Festival, we can be left foaming at the mouth in anticipation for their possessed arrival. “London will burn… and you’ll die!”

Lily Randall

 

Published in Iron Fist

Grave – Morbid Ascent

It’s hard to see a great deal of change in a five track EP from a band that have already cemented themselves as death metal veterans with ten full lengths confirming their legacy. Swedish favourites Grave certainly stick to their ferocious formula and EP ‘Morbid Ascent’ carries on from where last year’s stellar ‘Endless Procession of Souls’ left off. The first three tracks are new tunes that are fuelled by the aggressive speed and Ola’s menacingly familiar growls of the dirty nineties, with opener ‘Venial Sin’ stamping their style from the off. A cover of Satyricon’s ‘Possessed’ is a surprisingly brutal addition and a remix of last year’s ‘Epos’ stripped down and shortened for a heavier, sharper crunch. If this is a taster of things to come from Grave, expect the well done death metal all over again.

Small review published in Iron Fist

CARCASS- ‘Surgical Steel’ [10]

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Seventeen years is a bloody long time to wait for a comeback but Carcass make it all worthwhile with an album that not only dusts the dried blood off of the amplifiers but matches in superiority to their previous masterpieces. Their last offering ‘Swansong’ was a poor way to duck out of the limelight but ‘Surgical Steel’ takes the best bits of pioneering favourites ‘Necroticism’ and ‘Heartwork’ and mould them into a perfect blend of melody and madness.

Since their hiatus began in 1996, bands from all over have taken the styles of both these albums, desperate to the reignite the flame of Carcass but regardless of which tools of the trade they chose, it hasn’t quite reached legendary. As soon as intro ‘1985’ fades out  and short but seriously heavy ‘Thrasher’s Abbatoir’ kicks in it is crystal clear this is Carcass and not one of their imposters. As the band slay through grind infused sections of ‘Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System’, the old-school angst remains despite a production so sharp it could slice you up. Former drummer Ken Owen shall forever remain a legend behind the kit, however latest recruit Daniel Wilding has a slight technical edge to his stick work that gives tracks including single ‘Captive Bolt Pistol’ a modern edge that pisses all over newer bands.

While the force of ‘Necroticism’’s blood flows strongly throughout the album, one cannot avoid the melodically genius guitar work that juxtaposes it. Bill Steer may be without Michael Amott but if anything, his solitary position allows him to swoop and solo a la ‘Heartwork’ at his own demise proving, and at times topping, the claim that Carcass invented the melodic death metal sound. Everything about ‘Surgical Steel’ proves that not only is this a magnificent comeback, but it could also be one of the greatest things Carcass have stitched together in terms of song-writing, musical prowess and production.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

‘Surgical Steel’ is out September 16th on Nuclear Blast

You’ll like this if…the thought of ‘Necroticisim being transplanted into the body of ‘Heartwork’ gets you grabbing for your apron

published on soundshock.com

Aborted @ The Garage, London

It seems to be common knowledge that if a death metal show is on at the Garage, you’re going to be crammed into the upstairs of the venue, making for a claustrophobic yet intimate show and ear plugs certainly required. Aborted were last on our shores back in February supporting Vader and if you thought The Underworld show was crazy, you’re in for a treat tonight.

Opening the night is a convenient yet obscure choice in the form of System Divide. Containing three Aborted members, including vocalist Sven and his wife Miri Millman (ex-Orphaned Land), the band are a far cry from the brutality on the rest of the line up with a beauty and the beast approach on the vocals that falls on its head a bit with this audience. Although the band is pumped up and the overall musicianship is strong, the melodeath tracks from debut ‘The Conscious Sedation’ are predictably commercial and lacking in grit.

London’s own Acrania are up next and the evening is swung to the other end of the heavy spectrum. With a sound akin to the likes of Whitechapel, the youngsters slam through their set of standard deathcore with breakdowns galore. With obvious brutal DM influence throughout, it seems this is enough to sway some of the audience who claim to be “anti-core”. The band may dub themselves as “politicore”, which is cringe worthy in itself, but there is nothing overly powerful about their presence other than the obvious.

The last year has seen death metal Brits Dyscarnate flourish under the spotlight, with great support slots, trips around the world and a well-received sophomore full length. Tonight is a perfect example as to why they deserve the attention. With a set similar to their appearance here earlier on in the year supporting Aeon, it explosive from the word go and it’s amazing to see a trio cause such a wonderful racket. Their straight-up death metal has no gimmicks and pummels you through chunky guitars and blistering drumming. ‘The Promethean’ still stands out as a favourite and with a new album on the way; it’ll be interesting to see how much more this band can evolve.

Celebrating the tenth anniversary of 2003’s Goremageddon album, Aborted are back on our shores after supporting the likes of Vader earlier on in the year. Although, the set list is relatively similar to February’s onslaught, the brutal death metallers show they’re suited to intimate venues, as vocalist Sven rabidly wonders the staged like a man possessed. Blending chuggy breakdowns with face-melting speed, the Belgians swoop through favourites such as ‘Origin of Disease’ and ‘Fecal Forgery’. The sound is tight with each piece of the brutality barricading you into its grasp. The crowd isn’t as mad as you expect but this doesn’t stop the night from being a success with the ending the perfectly bloodied cherry on top.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

published on soundshock.com

ULCERATE – ‘Vermis’ [8]

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It’s been a brilliantly bleak year for death metal; with the likes of Coffins, Gorguts and Altars all bringing truly crushing albums into the world and Ulcerate are looking to join the elite. Fourth album ‘Vermis’ takes the ferocity of previous album ‘Everything Is Fire’ and the brutality of 2010’s ‘Destroyers Of All’ to concoct something that stamps the New Zealanders’ as inventors of pure evil.

Avoiding the standard formulas of death metal, Ulcerate replace speed and chugging with droning riffs and a post-metal vibe that makes any other album described as “crushing” resemble a musical mouse. The fact this album acts like a tidal wave of desolation makes it hard to accept that it was created by three human beings, with tracks such as ‘Weight Of Emptiness’ being lengthy and the guitar parts build up with a serious amount of dread, so you ‘re kept in suspense in the best possible way. With remnants of Demilich and Incantation spattered amongst ‘Vermis’, the album has no sporadic changes in speed or style and it’s this planned order that makes it feel even more terrifying. For those who don’t know ‘Vermis’ is Latin for “worm”, making the title name incredibly apt, as you feel like you are pinned down under a slithering weight, just waiting with no hope for an innovative yet imminent end.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

‘Vermis’ is out now on Sept 17th on Relapse

You’ll like this if… you often see the word “brutal” and feel it’s used wrongly

published on soundshock.com

GORGUTS – ‘Coloured Sands’ [7]

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A death metal comeback is always going to be strongly anticipated but when two pioneering bands of different styles emerge from their studio graves, its mayhem waiting to happen. It’s been 12 years since Gorguts’ last release and although only the founder remains from the original line up, Luc Lemay has kept his roots well and truly grounded in their sound.

Their 1998 record ‘Obscura’ was a game changer on the scene, and though ‘Coloured Sands’ isn’t quite so avant-garde, it certainly confirms Gorguts are back and ready to slaughter. Their technicality is apparent without being arrogant like many younger bands and creates a haunting atmosphere rather than an epic one. The murky sludge of ‘Obscura’ oozes on certain tracks including opener ‘Le Toit Du Monde’ and in true Gorguts fashion, the bass is extremely prevalent causing additional density. The technical bruising and uneasy vocals help ‘Coloured Sands’ fit comfortably in today’s ocean of extremity and the chunky riffs and scatty drumming is bound to appeal, whilst the incredibly claustrophobic aura on tracks such as ‘Forgotten Arrows’ and ‘Absconders’ create a more underground stench. It’s a slow and suffocating experience but you’ll be glad you suffered brutality 12 years in the making. ‘The Battle Of Chamdo’ breaks things up as an orchestral instrumental and despite its softer sounds, it’s still capable of causing dramatic unease like a movie soundtrack and works as a breather before you are truly sucked into the ‘Coloured Sands’.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

‘Coloured Sands’ is out now on Season of Mist

You’ll like this if…asphyxiation via music sounds like the perfect foreplay

published on soundshock.com